WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia – On the cusp of its first anniversary, The Virginia Beer Company was recently recognized as one of the top new breweries in the country by BeerAdvocate magazine. As part of BeerAdvocate’s annual “Class Of” honors, 34 breweries out of the 861 new breweries that opened across the country in 2016 were selected as the best in their class. Virginia Beer Co. was one of two Virginia breweries selected for last year’s honors.
It's been an amazing start to the new year in the Greater Williamsburg area. The biggest news (at least for us) is that The Virginia Beer Company's buildout at 401 Second Street is practically complete! With the exception of a few odds & ends on our punch list, we've been working steadily along to make this facility into the brewery of the future. With the wrap of construction and the start of brewing (maybe that's bigger news!), we've been busy getting ready for a grand opening in the spring, and find ourselves trying to take a moment to recap the amazing start to the year.
In our last update, we provided a few notes on the delivery of our brewing equipment and the progress of our buildout. In addition, we were getting hungry over the prospect of food trucks being allowed in York County. The December vote that was set to allow food trucks was tabled due to a complication (per WYDaily), but the New Year's resolution stuck early and the Board of Supervisors passed the updated regulations in January (per WYDaily) (almost a year after we first started the conversation)! We had initially worked to design 401's beer garden so that food trucks could pull alongside the space and provide access to their sumptuous morsels while our patrons were enjoying the outdoors with a Virginia beer in hand in front of the brewery. We're now excited about the opportunity to work with Williamsburg's amazing culinary artists and introduce the area to some new flavors (such as from our friends at Karnage Asada) now that we can formally host food trucks at 401!
Meanwhile, the Hampton Roads craft beer scene continued to grow in new and exciting ways. Future openings by fellow newcomers were announced and upcoming moves and expansions by other known brewers were unveiled. In addition, the year-end brought with it a time of celebration for the amazing brewing going on around the area. We were thrilled that our Public Frenemy No. 1 collaboration with fellow York County brewery Alewerks Brewing Company received a silver medal for Best Collaboration at the VEER Magazine Golden Tap Awards! To play even a small role in the HRVA craft beer scene in 2015 before we open was a great thrill. We CANNOT WAIT to get even more involved when Spring 2016 rolls around!
It has been a whirlwind around 401 Second Street the past few months. We have been working steadily through our buildout and site work, and after many months are mere weeks away from the completion of these tasks. All of our major brewing equipment is now in house, and if all goes well Virginia Beer Co. will be brewing in a few (comparatively) short weeks! We had a quick mention in a recent business notes section in The Virginia Gazette to mark the milestone of our equipment delivery.
We've also been working closely with York County on their food truck regulations. After many conversations about the viability of food trucks in the area, and our desire to host them at 401, we are happy to report that York County's Planning Commission came out in support of food trucks in November! We're now less than a week away from a final vote on the topic by the York County Board of Supervisors on 12/15. If all goes well, we'll be seeing some tasty trucks roll in to Williamsburg (with many frequent stops at 401) in 2016!
Exciting times around Williamsburg and around 401!
Virginia Beer Co. is one of many breweries opening in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The growth of the craft beer scene in Virginia - to over 100 breweries, more than doubling since 2012 - is due in large part to the passage of SB604. The bill, which allows for breweries to serve beer on premises without hosting a full service restaurant on the same premises, revolutionized Virginia's beer industry. But how is the Virginia scene a few years later compared to where it could be? Ben Swenson put together an overview of the current atmosphere around the HRVA areas for Hampton Roads Growler, including updates on the adventures of The Virginia Beer Co. and a number of our local brewing brethren as we all work to bring even more quality beer to our state's liquid landscape! It's an exciting time, not without its challenges, but in the end there's more growth and excitement to come! Check out the full article below or in the latest hard copy edition of HR Growler:
Now that we have received our site approval, which allows us to OFFICIALLY begin work turning 401 Second Street into The Virginia Beer Company, I thought it would be prudent to take a look back at our site approval process with a focus on how it all began at our initial pre-approval meeting with York County. This was the meeting that formally started the process of establishing the county (and city and state!) review of our proposed construction/operation plans.
There's a lot going on in the world of Virginia craft beer and craft spirits! Not only is The Virginia Beer Co. working to open its doors in the fall, but we're seeing new brewery openings, new brewery features, and even some other craft ventures expanding all around us. For example, we've recently been referenced in two articles about the local spirits industry. The first, in the WY Daily, is announcing the formal opening of the Copper Fox Distillery's second location in Williamsburg, VA. The second, in the Daily Press, is a write-up on live music in breweries with a specific focus on our not-too-distant neighbor, St. George Brewing! Check out both articles here:
WYDaily.com: Whisky Maker Finalizes Purchase of City Motel
Daily Press: Live music returns to St. George Brewing in Hampton
We really love this neighborhood of ours!
There's been a lot of recent news in York County about the potential for formalizing rules that would allow food trucks to operate alongside businesses in the county...such as microbreweries! The Virginia Beer Company was recently approached by two local news organizations inquiring about our thoughts on food trucks (Cliffs Notes: we love the idea!):
Craft beer AND food trucks? Williamsburg is going to be one hopping place in 2015! We're looking forward to updates on the topic in February!
As noted in last week's articles, The Virginia Beer Company was recently awarded a $43,000 grant from the York County Economic Development Authority. In our presentation to the Board we requested funding for three specific projects. While the articles briefly touched on the projects, we'd like to provide more background on how York County's grant will assist us with opening our future brewery. Below is more detail on the three projects:
- Site Work: York County and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) have mandated that one of the two existing curb cuts (entrances into the building's parking lot) be closed. This will not only keep the property in compliance with current codes, but it will also increase safety and allow for the construction of a patio off the front of the building (pending County approval).
- Windows & Doors: The building's windows and doors were installed in 1960. The windows are single-pane and have very little thermal resistance. Many of them are cracked and some have even been replaced by plywood. The grant will cover an upgrade to highly efficient commercial storefront windows and doors that will both improve the overall appearance of the building and decrease our energy usage.
- Wastewater: Brewery wastewater can potentially pose challenges for wastewater treatment facilities. In most breweries, wastewater (including acids and caustics used for cleaning) is sent into the sanitary sewer without any pre-treatment. The grant will cover the purchase of a clean-in-place system that will recapture most of the chemicals used for cleaning brewing and fermentation vessels, which will allow us to discharge wastewater that falls within an acceptable pH range. It will also assist with the purchase and installation of an in-ground solids separator that will allow us to send fewer suspended solids into the sanitary sewer.
We are extremely grateful to York County for the assistance they have provided The Virginia Beer Company. We are working hard to open our brewery and the receipt of the grant is a huge step towards making that happen. Starting a new business is a daunting, complex, and EXPENSIVE task, but we are really looking forward to making large capital investments, providing new sources of tax revenue, and creating highly-skilled, well-paid jobs in York County.